Public Access Internet
News and Notes
- New Dialup Service
It's taken a lot longer than expected, but we now have 56k dialup service again. Nyx's
contract for a PRI line from ICG expired at the end of January, and we'd been set up to
outsource our dialup lines to Skycomm.com aka Riva.net. Unfortunately, the day of the
switchover, Skycomm shut down Nyx's dialup service and demanded an immediate payment
of $700 more than we had agreed upon to continue Nyx's service. Strangely, they did not
return phone messages or email after this.
As an emergency measure, we switched over to a single analog line while getting service
set up through other means.
As of today, we now are handling dialup using ISDN BRI lines provided by Qwest connected
to a 3Com RAS 1500 unit, shown at the top of this picture.
- Mailserver Upgraded
With the ever-rising tide of junk email (and increasingly computationally-intensive
demands of filtering said junk email), most of the time Nyx's mailserver is the most
heavily-loaded machine around. I've taken the previous incarnation of my main editing
workstation, beefed up the heatsinks, added some additional memory, and turned it
over to the demanding task of handling Nyx's email.
The new machine is a dual-Athlon MP 1800+ system running on a Tyan 2460 mainboard
with 2.5 gigabytes of memory (the most of any of our servers--most of which have 1-2
gigabytes these days--and an AMI/LSI Logic MegaRAID Elite 1500 RAID controller.
Let's hope that the this latest version of the mailserver proves adequate to the task
for some time to come. In the past, we've had to upgrade the mailserver at least once
per year to keep up with the spam levels.
Thanks to the talents and expertise of Elie Rosenblum, Nyx now offers a web-based email
interface. Give it a try at http://mail.nyx.net
- Nyx10 and Nyx swapped
Nyx.nyx.net (18.104.22.168) and Nyx10.nyx.net (22.214.171.124) are our oldest (and slowest)
machines, a SparcServer 2 and a SparcServer 20 with a 150MHz Ross CPU. They're the only
ones still running SunOS 4.1.4, and the Ross 150MHz Hypersparc is the fastest system we
have that supports SunOS 4.1.4. In terms of computing power and memory, it's about eight
times the machine that the Sparc2 is.
We've slowly been phasing out SunOS and the older Sparc hardware in favor of Solaris
and Linux on newer platforms, and the latest step in this process was to swap the names
and IPs of these two machines, so that now the 150MHz Sparc 20 is at Nyx.nyx.net (126.96.36.199).
We've already moved any critical functions off of the Sparc2, now known as Nyx10, and after
sufficient testing, it will be taken out of service and the DNS entry for Nyx10 will be changed
to also point at 188.8.131.52.
- New Newserver
After two of the drives in one of Irys' (the main news server) drive arrays bit the dust
simultaneously, we took the opportunity to build a new machine. These days, serving up the
news is nowhere near as demanding as spam filtering, so I put one of the dual P-III Xeon/500
servers into use. It's using a Supermicro S2DGE GX-based mainboard with one gigabyte of
registered ECC memory and a MegaRAID Enterprise 1200 controller with 128 Meg of cache
The biggest advantage of replacing the server was the chance to replace the drive arrays,
which had been built from fifteen well-worn first-generation half-height Seagate barracuda
2.5 and 4.3 gig drives. The new server uses merely a single array of three eighteen gig Seagate
Cheetah 10K drives.
(Pictured at right, top to bottom: Arache, Hermes, Hermey, drive arrays for Hermes and Arachne,
Irys. At bottom is Anubis (now offline).)
- New Mailserver
After having mail functions split between Anubis (the "old" mailserver--not quite two years old at this point)
and Hermes (the "new" mailserver) for the last few months, all mail functions have finally been switched over
Hermes is built with the same motherboard as Arachne (Supermicro 370DLI) with a pair of 1.1GHz P-III processors,
2 Gigabytes of registered ECC memory, an AMI MegaRAID Elite 1500 with 128 Megabytes of ECC cache, and
six 18Gig Seagate Cheetah 10K drives.
- New Webserver
Nyx's webserver, Arachne, had been a 110MHz Sun Sparc 5 for the last two years (before
that it had been a Sparc 1+ with an Axil "Sparc 5" compatible upgrade board, and before that
it had been an un-upgraded Sparc 1+) has now been replaced with a dual PentiumIII-850
system with 2 Gigabytes of registered ECC memory, an AMI MegaRAID Elite 1500 with 128 Megabytes
of ECC cache, and six 18Gig Seagate Cheetah 10K drives.
Arachne's new avatar is running Slackware 8.1.1 and its drive arrays are now set up with the
Ext3 journalling filesystem.
- New Login Machines Online
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Casper Maarbjerg and the rest of our volunteer admins, Nyx's new
login machines are now open for general use. Unimaginitively dubbed Nyx1, Nyx2, and Nyx3, the new
login machines are all Sun Ultra-based systems running Solaris 8, a big leap from Nyx's older login
machines (Nyx and Nyx10) which are a SparcStation 2 and a SparcStation 20, both running SunOS
- Modems updated to v.90
After serving us for a year, our trusty v.34 USR/3Com Total Control digital modem bank
was replaced with a Livingston/Lucent Portmaster 3 with 50 v.90 modems, bringing us
up to 56k dialup service.
Nyx's old mailserver, Noc, a SparcServer1+, was replaced with Anubis, a Pentium-II based
server with 512Meg of memory and an array of eight 4.3G drives running with hardware RAID-5.
(main box of Anubis shown just above the keyboard, drive array (eight 4.3g Seagate
Barracuda drives running of an AMI MegaRAID 428 controller) near the top of the
- Main router upgraded
Nyx's trusty Cisco 2524 modular router was swapped out with a newer, peppier,
Cisco 3620. (Note that its similarly-configured twin is mounted beneath, ready to take
over in a moment's notice if needed.)
(Cisco 3620 routers bottom-left, 3Com 3300-series switches top-left.)
- Dialup problems fixed
After limping along on the semi-functioning Livingston Portmaster 2 for the past
week, one of the Annex 4000 terminal servers was finally put into service so that the
Portmaster could be taken down for evaluation, testing, and full repairs.
Note that after the power outage took out some of the dialup modems, the USR Total Control
modem bank was configured, tested, and put into service.
(New Cisco Routers on left, USR Total Control modem bank and Annex 4000 on right)
- Electrical Improvements Continue
- The network was taken offline briefly (approximately two minutes) about 5:00 this morning
so that the router, CSU/DSU, and channel bank could be moved onto a new UPS. A propane-fueled
backup generator has been acquired and is expected to be placed in service after planned
wiring improvements to the server area are completed.
- Invasion of the CPU Snatchers
- Nyx, Nyx10 (Nox), and Arachne were all quietly replaced with newer and faster
hardware early this morning. While a much smaller upgrade than the planned switch to
Nyx0-Nyx3 (which continues to wait on the availability of volunteers to complete the
software configuration), I'd been concerned about the reliability of Nyx (the computer) and
it has been replaced with a newer Sparc2 with the Weitek CPU upgrade; Nyx10 was replaced by
a Sparc10 running dual CPUs which are each faster than the previous single CPU and include
the cache controller which the previous incarnation of Nyx10 did not.
Arachne had been a Sparc5/70 and is now a Sparc5/110 with a little more memory.
Otherwise, the software and configuration of these machines remains unchanged.
- Iris repaired
- Iris' power supply bit the big one early this morning (3:00AM-ish)
Power supply was replaced, system checks out with no errors and everything seems happy.
- Network power switched over without incident
- Two of the main switches had still been running directly off the line power
since the Nyx's main UPS blew up a few days before. They were switched over to one
of the new UPS units quickly enough that there was no known disruption in service.
- Rest of charred wiring cleaned up
- the rest of the burned wiring was cleaned up
this morning and all the nyx machines are on the new UPSs;
the new units were given a brief stress test and passed
(take a look at the former UPS' power cables!)
- Special thanks:
- Thanks to Tommy Bowen ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) for donating 80 Boca 33.6 modems to
Nyx! I'll start getting those checked out and start swapping out the last of the
28.8 modems in the next few days.